Maine approves Christian ballot initiative to strip gay rights from Human Rights Act
LGBT rights [AFP]

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said this week that a Christian activist could move forward with plans for a ballot initiative to strip LGBT protections from the state's anti-discrimination law.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the state had approved language in a petition to remove "sexual orientation" from Maine's Human Rights Act. The request was originally filed last summer by Michael Heath, former head of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Dunlap said that Heath could pick up the paperwork and begin collecting signatures to force a statewide referendum. Signatures are needed from 61,123 verified registered voters to place the question on the ballot.

The Human Rights Act has protected Maine residents from discrimination based on "sexual orientation" since 2005.

EqualityMaine executive director Matt Moonen told the Daily News that LGBT people deserved the same protections as everyone else.

“The current law has been working for more than a decade,” Moonen explained. “This initiative is a blatant effort to turn back the clock and single out lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people so that it’s once again legal to fire them, deny them housing or kick them out of a restaurant simply because of who they are.”

In recent weeks, both North Carolina and Mississippi have come under fire for restricting the rights of LGBT people at the state level.